Chris Jericho is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, a six-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, the lead singer of heavy metal band Fozzy, and the host of the Talk Is Jericho podcast. He lives in Tampa, Florida, with his wife and three children, hates thumbtacks, and is obsessed with lake monsters.
I got to chat with Chris about his new book No Is a Four-Letter Word: How I Failed Spelling but Succeeded in Life, fatherhood and more.
Chris shares 20 of his most valuable lessons for achieving your goals and living the life you want, jam-packed with fantastic stories and the classic off-the-wall, laugh-out-loud Jericho references he’s famous for, with a foreword by Paul Stanley.
Jericho has known what he wanted out of life since he was a teenager: to be a pro wrestler and to be in a Rock ‘n’ Roll band. Most of his high school friends felt that he lacked the tools necessary to get into either, but Chris believed in himself. With the wise words of Master Yoda echoing through his head (“Do or do not. There is no try.”), he made it happen. As a result, Chris has spent a lifetime doing instead of merely trying, managing to achieve his dreams while learning dozens of invaluable lessons along the way.
No Is a Four-Letter Word distills more than two decades of showbiz wisdom and advice into twenty easy-to-carry chapters. From developing a strong work ethic thanks to WWE chairman Vince McMahon, remembering to always look like a star from Gene Simmons of KISS, learning to let it go when the America’s Funniest Home Videos hosting gig goes to his rival, adopting a sense of perpetual reinvention from the late David Bowie, making sure to sell himself like his NHL-legend father Ted Irvine taught him, or going the extra mile to meet Keith Richards (with an assist from Jimmy Fallon), Chris has learned countless lessons during his decades-long career.
Art Eddy: Let’s first talk about your book. Congratulations on your latest book that is called No Is a Four-Letter Word: How I Failed Spelling but Succeeded in Life. You share with your readers about your journey into all aspects of your life. This is almost a how to book. Is there one principle that ranks over the others for you in how you succeeded at accomplish your goals?
Chris Jericho: It is more a motivational book. I base it very uniquely around 20 principles I have learned on how to achieve your goals. I get a lot of people asking me how did you make it in music and in wrestling? They are both so hard. When I first started everyone told me that I would never do it. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to listen to those types of people.
There are so many great principles, but the one I like the most is what I call the Keith Richards principle. The moral of the story is that I had a chance to meet Keith Richards in New York City, but we had a show that night in the Meadowlands. I didn’t know if I could make it. There would be a lot of traffic. The moral of that chapter is rather than looking at reasons why something won’t work out, find the reasons why it will work out and make it happen.
People will say that it will never work. I can never do it. I don’t know what to do. Slap yourself in the face. Get up there and make it happen. I think a lot of people give up on things because no is a four letter word. It really is. It is a very evil word because it is accepted randomly and obligatorily when that doesn’t have to be the case. If you want to make something happen and a lot of those principles follow this just make it happen. That is the way it has got to be. Go out there and just do it.
AE: In one of your chapters that is called The Ted Irvine Principle: You Gotta Sell Yourself you share the lessons you learned from your dad, Ted Irvine who played in the NHL and how you applied it to you many endeavors. What has your dad said to you about your career and what you have achieved so far in life?
CJ: Not yet, but he will. The book is coming out soon. Just looking at the concept of that chapter. Take the WWE. It took me nine years to get to the WWE. You have to sell yourself. I don’t care if you are the biggest star in the world or if you are just starting out. You have to sell yourself. You have to be a salesman for the business of you. Why should you get the job when there are 16 other people who are up for it? Well here are the reasons why.
I think that is another thing that gets lost as well. It is not just about selling yourself when you have a name. It is selling yourself in the first place. My dad always said that. I am excited to have him read the book. He is a very positive guy. A lot of these things are lessons and principles that I have learned from different people. Each chapter is based on an experience I had over the last 27 years. A lot of those things come from my dad. I think he will enjoy it. He has always been supportive for all the stuff that I have done right from the beginning during my days in the wrestling world.
He always saw the reasons on why it would work and why I should get into a band and go for it. I think that is because he did that himself. He was a pro hockey player. He could relate to that. It is always that cool dichotomy between us. He has been through it and has made it happen. He understands the sacrifices that you have to make.
AE: This book is a great read for someone who is getting out of school and looking to start their career. There are many great themes in this book for people to adopt. Sometime it is easier said than done. For you what principle was the toughest for you to adopt and use when you were looking to start up your career in wrestling?
CJ: A lot of these were things that I didn’t know. I just learned them at the time. You learn as you get older and have these experiences. It is that if I knew then what I know now sort of thing. The two principles that hit me the most would be the original one. It is the Paul Stanley principle. The only people that tell you that you can’t do something are the ones who have failed. Don’t allow that to get into your head. Eliminate that negativity right off the bat.
People are very negative. Especially if they think that you shouldn’t do it. If you make it in one vocation Heaven forbid if you want to do something in another vocation. Sometimes you have more ideas and talents. Once you start getting into the third or fourth talent it is like Jericho is a wrestler, he can’t sing. Why? Because he is a wrestler. Oh my God, he can sing. They have a number one song. He has a podcast. Well what kind of podcast is it? It must suck. Actually he is a good interviewer. He is a good writer. He is a good actor. It is because I don’t put any limits on myself. I go out and do things that I think I can do and make it happen. I commit and make it happen.
I think the other one that fits in as well is what I call the America’s Funniest Video principle. That was when I was down to the wire to get the gig as the host for the show when Tom Bergeron left a few years ago. It was down to me and one other guy. The other guy got it. It was a crushing blow after a year and a half of doing this job and trying to do everything right and just not getting it. It was just not the way they went. How do you get over such a crushing let down professionally? That is part of it too. How do you brush yourself off and get back into the game. Your life is not defined by your failures, but your successes. That is another important lesson I learned.
CJ: I am not an “oh my gosh type of guy.” I kind of took it in stride. I think my wife picked me up from the airport and there was a onesie in the car. I was too stupid to figure it out. It is a big life change. I treated it as a step in the walk of life. It is the greatest thing and it is the best thing that you can ever do.
I find now with children especially when they are older, my son is 13 and my daughters are 11 that those are the golden years as a parent because you are still cool. There are only a few more years until you are not cool. I will be getting kicked out of the room when their friends come over no matter if you are Chris Jericho or not. I enjoy the whole experience and the whole ride and the whole concept of being a father. It has been quite rewarding in a lot of different ways.
AE: What are some of the core values you look to instill into your kids as they grow up?
CJ: Confidence. If you want to do something than make it happen. You can do anything you want in life. I know you always hear that, but it is true. If you are 5’5” and you want to be the center for the L.A. Lakers that is not going to happen. You can do whatever you want in life within the limits of your talents you have and the attitude that you have and skill level that you have.
All of that stuff means something, but the most important thing that you need to have is just the confidence and courage to just try. Do things. Don’t worry about failure. Don’t worry about doing things the wrong way. Like I said no is a four letter word. It is an evil word that is accepted far too easily. Instead of accepting the word no just go to how you can make that no a yes.
Try as many things as you can. Don’t be afraid if it doesn’t work out. That is for people in general. Don’t be scared of something not working out. You will never know. If you don’t shoot you won’t score. You can shoot 100 pucks and you are only going to make ten goals. If you shoot zero pucks you will score no goals. That is the way I look at it.
AE: Yeah, Jim Breuer said the same thing about his kids where he is not seen as this celebrity, but just as dad.
CJ: Yeah, Jim is awesome. I remember the same thing. My dad played in the NHL for the New York Rangers and the St. Louis Blues. My friends thought that was so cool. To me I could care less. It was just my dad. Now looking back I realize just how many cool things he did and how much of an influence he had. You learn that over the years as you grow up. You actually respect and delve into what your parents did.
AE: What is the one biggest piece of advice you have for new dads?
CJ: I would say the best thing is to make sure you take over at night so that your wife can sleep. If you are sleeping through the night and your wife is not, it is not going to be a good thing. So you need to take the baby and know how to feed the baby. Two hours of sleep. Three hours of sleep. One hour of sleep. Humans aren’t made to sleep that way. It is easier for dads because moms have to constantly be feeding and so forth. You have to let her know that she has a block of sleep. It will help you and your marriage and help you get yelled at a whole lot less.
Life of Dad Quick Five
CJ: Probably have to go with the Star Wars series. Especially not that they are putting one out every Christmas. We saw The Force Awakens and Rogue One. We are going to see Episode VIII this year. It is kind of a family tradition at this point. We also love 80’s comedies like Back to the Future.
AE: Do you guys have a favorite song that you all like to sing to or dance to as a family?
CJ: I think the song that all the kids love now by Fozzy is called Judas. It is a big hit and is the one they are all digging right now.
AE: Describe the perfect family vacation.
CJ: We just came back from Hawaii and Maui. It is the second year in a row. So we love it there. We also love to ski and snowboard. That is the hot and cold of it. Hawaii in the summer and snowboarding in the winter.
AE: Do you have a favorite WWE moment or achievement that stands out from the many great ones in your career?
CJ: I will say this. Just the fact that I have gotten to do for 27 years. That is my favorite achievement. It really is. I know it sounds wishy washy, but it is not. I could pick this match or that match. That would just be the tip of the iceberg. The favorite thing for me is that I still get to do what I love to do and what I always wanted to do.
AE: You are also in a band called Fozzy. Do you remember the first album that you purchased?
CJ: I was a big Beatles fan. My mom bought me all The Beatles records. The first album that I ever bought was by The Beach Boyscalled Summer Fun. It was actually an 8-Track from 1978. Once I got into junior high school and saw all the girls with Heavy Metal T-shirts on I realized that The Beach Boys and The Beatles might not cut it. The first Rock N Roll record that I bought was Blizzard of Ozz, Ozzy Osbourne’s cassette tape at a used book shop for two bucks.
Follow Chris on Twitter at @IAmJericho and get his book No Is a Four-Letter Word: How I Failed Spelling But Succeeded in Life wherever books are sold. Also go to chris-jericho.com for more on Chris.